Why Fight a Traffic Citation?
Indiana traffic violations range from minor civil infractions to serious criminal charges such as misdemeanors and felonies. Many people wouldn’t consider fighting a traffic violation unless it was a misdemeanor or felony charge involving the risk of heavy fines or jail time. But this is a mistake. Pleading guilty to a minor traffic violation can still have serious repercussions. When you contact the Indianapolis criminal defense lawyers with Hesser Law today at (317) 886-8800, Sean Hessler can provide a free phone consultation.
Fighting a Traffic Citation Can Keep Your Driving Record Clean
Having a clean driving record is important because auto insurance companies raise the rates of drivers who get even minor traffic citations. It may take years of safe driving without any tickets before your insurance company decides to remove you from its high-risk driver list and lower your premiums.
Traffic citations will result in points being added to your license. For example, you will receive:
- 2 points for driving 15 mph or less over the speed limit
- 4 points for unsafe lane movement
- 6 points for following too closely
- 8 points for failing to yield for an emergency vehicle
If you get 18 points or more over a 2-year period, you could face either probation or a suspension of your Indiana driver’s license.
If you received a traffic citation after an incident in which another vehicle was damaged or another person was hurt, you should absolutely fight the traffic citation. If you plead guilty, the injured parties will be able to use your guilty plea as evidence against you when they sue you in civil court to recover damages for their injuries.
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Indiana
If a cop gives you a ticket, you’ll have sixty days to notify the traffic court of your decision to plead not guilty. The easiest way to do this is by ticking the “not guilty” box on your traffic citation and mailing it to the listed address. You can also show up for your initial hearing, or arraignment, and inform the judge of your decision in person. Next, the court will assign you a hearing date.
At the hearing, you—or your attorney, if you retain one—will have the opportunity to present evidence and examine witnesses after the prosecution makes their case. You can even request that the prosecutor send you copies of all the evidence he or she will use against you at trial. This evidence will give you the ability to find weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.
The most important witness of the prosecution’s case will be the officer who conducted the traffic stop. When it’s your turn to cross-examine this witness, your goal will be to get him or her to contradict what was written in the police report or what he or she testified while under questioning from the prosecutor.
What Outcomes You Can Expect From a Traffic Citation Hearing
While you may win your case by showing that the prosecution’s evidence does not prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you can also seek the dismissal of your charges. You can request that the court dismiss your charges in the following circumstances:
- The officer who gave you the citation does not attend the hearing
- Your trial date is so late that it breaks the rule for a “fair and speedy trial”
- The prosecutor does not have enough admissible evidence to substantiate the charges
If the judge finds you not guilty or agrees to dismiss the charges, then you have nothing more to worry about—but make sure to request your driving record to ensure the violation was deleted. If the judge finds you guilty, you will be asked to pay the ticket fines and court costs. Depending on your case, it may or may not make sense to file an appeal.
How Experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
Most people don’t have the time or the patience to collect the evidence to successfully fight a traffic ticket. But for a lawyer, spending time to meticulously put together case evidence is routine business. In addition, a lawyer will be trained in the public speaking and debate techniques necessary to argue your case and cross-examine the witnesses, such as the officer who gave you the citation.
At Hessler Law, our Indianapolis criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of helping our clients beat their traffic citations. We’ll make sure that the court and prosecutors respect your rights and that your hearing goes by the book. If you want to learn more about how we can help, give us a call today and we’ll give you a free phone consultation of your case.